Lloyd Grove writes: The jury is still out on whether Team Trump colluded with Russian operatives during last year’s presidential campaign—the subject of an extensive FBI investigation.
But the evidence is overwhelming that the Trump White House is colluding every day with the Fox News Channel, with Donald Trump himself acting as the right-leaning cable network’s cheerleader-in-chief and No.1 assignment editor.
The latest example is Fox News’s relentless promotion–abetted by the president’s Twitter feed and Monday’s installment of Fox & Friends—of a story that Los Angeles correspondent Adam Housely first told on Friday’s edition of Outnumbered, a noon weekday program in which four women on a couch and “one lucky guy” seated in the middle flirt and banter about the news of the day.
Appearing remotely from L.A., Housely reported that unnamed U.S. intelligence agencies, acting on orders from an unnamed Obama intelligence official, had improperly “unmasked” the identities of Team Trump members and associates who were caught up last year in surveillance operations; Housely also claimed that top Obama administration officials used the information for political gain.
The assertion, so far uncorroborated by other news outlets with the exception of Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, offered aid and comfort to Trump, who has been under intense media and congressional scrutiny for his alleged Russian connections ever since he tweeted on March 4 that President Obama—a “Bad (or sick) guy”—had ordered the “wiretapping” of Trump Tower. [Continue reading…]
Lake’s piece is noteworthy for this:
In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy [my emphasis].
The following month, Trump’s new national security adviser H.R. McMaster removed Cohen-Watnick from his position as NSC senior intelligence director only to get overruled by Trump. And then we learned about Cohen-Watnick’s family ties to the Russian government.
Michael Flynn’s request for immunity probably has much less to do with his desire to tell his story than his fear that his protege will be granted immunity first at which point the White House implodes as Trump aides rush for the exits.